Review: Bottled Passion (TVB, 2011)

Bottled Passion (我的如意狼君)
Genre: Period Drama/Romance
Length: 21 episodes
Producer: Lee Tim Sing

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The Cast

Raymond Wong as Tung Boon-Sin aka Lee Ho
Niki Chow as Tsui Sum aka 牛奶糖
Elaine Yiu as Ko Yee-Kiu
Joel Chan as Ko Yee-Tai
Katy Kung as Ko Yee-Nga
Kwok Fung as Ko Siu-Tong
Rebecca Chan as Dong Kwok-Hing
Jack Wu as Yuen Yau-Hin

and Tracy Ip, Ching Hor-Wai, Claire Yiu, Raymond Cho, Eric Lee, Vin Choi, Yoyo Chen, etc.

Synopsis in Brief

Set in Guangzhou. Twenty years ago, Dong Kwok-Hing (Rebecca Chan) adopted orphan Lee Ho (Raymond Wong) home in order to prevent her husband, Ko Siu-Tong (Kwok Fung) from seeking his biological son, who later turns out to be Yuen Yau-Hin (Jack Wu). Afraid that the extremely diligent and intelligent eight-year-old Lee Ho at the time would eventually win Mr. Ko’s favor instead of her biological, spoiled, and useless son, Ko Yee-Tai (Joel Chan), she revealed his identity and heartlessly threw him off a river…

Twenty years later, Tung Boon-Sin (Raymond Wong) returns to Guangzhou and seeks to tear apart the Ko family, first by wooing the Ko sisters who turns against each other for a man who they selfishly want only to themselves. Meanwhile, the clueless Boon-Sin finds his childhood sweetheart, Tsui Sum (Niki Chow), betrays her, but is still helplessly in love with her.

Notable Acting
What else can I say? While Raymond Wong may not be the only TVB ‘siu sang’ suitable for this role in terms of looks, he was a wise choice for Hong Kong viewers have been seeing too many of Raymond Lam, Ron Ng, Bosco Wong, and some others too much in recent years. In terms of wooing the Ko sisters, Raymond reminded me of Sammul Chan who did the same to win Kate Tsui’s heart in the well-liked The Price of Greed several years earlier. Did it bring similar memories of reminiscence for you guys? (Side Note: I, personally, found Sammul more suave and smooth in being the conman, but Raymond more suitable in his earnest love for Niki.) Despite his tired and pale face, pulling on a long black fur coat makes all the difference; viola, we have a handsome, well-groomed man!

In spite of Niki’s one-dimensional and flat expressions most of the time, I can really see why Lee Tim Sing only had her in mind when he made his casting decisions. While Linda Chung may come close to portraying the innocent type, there is something simple about Niki that makes her the go-to actress for these corny TVB romances. (I didn’t like either Under the Canopy of Love or The Seventh Day, but someone somehow finds her very filling for these roles.) That said, Niki really has only a few expressions to show, but apparently even the producer was aware of this fact for he filled in her empty expressions with Tsui Sum’s narration of her thoughts and feelings with voice-overs.

To be honest, I’ve never really liked Elaine Yiu, more so because of the way she looks than the way she acts; and when she plays the preachy, good-girl types, I find her even less likable. Weird much? Strangely, despite playing a rather selfish, always bordering-rebellious, and emotionally-torn, heiress here, her dark smokey eye and cold stares really turns me on!

When I was first exposed to Katy Kung’s acting two years ago, I really believed she had potential to play bigger roles as 1) she can speak decent Cantonese (and we know how rare those are these days) and 2) her expressions are natural, neither too exaggerated like Sire Ma or too choppy like Cilla Lok. At first, I was a bit disappointed that she will be playing the “sweet little sister” for the nth time, but very quickly we learn that she is more than pretending to be sweet. In the future, I do wish to see her expressions with added emotional depth.

Raymond/Niki and Raymond/Elaine Chemistry

Not one relationship can be labeled as better than the other even though Raymond had ulterior intentions in approaching Elaine. One is filled with sweet childhood moments of genuine tenderness and care, then a long, yearning-to-be-together-again period, and finally a reunification moment while another encompasses two people who have selfish business interests comes together and goes on random adventures of breaking into clothing stores at midnight, and providing her with a simple, but romantic perspective of life.

Which is more touching? Which couple had better chemistry?

Maybe a little bit of both and more would be best. ;)

The Ending

Tung Boon-Sin’s death is necessary or not? That’s the question. By nature, when one is stabbed he would rush to the hospital to be saved by the doctors there and not to a river and die alone there.

That said, twenty episodes was perfect for the series as the last episode lagged in the last half hour-ish with Tsui Sum waiting for Boon-Sin.

Overall Appraisal

I’m not drawn to period drama anymore and as I grow older, I find them to be less entertaining and more annoying, even more so than palatial dramas. TVB romance-themed series are another type I try to stay away from, but Bottled Passion was exceptionally entertaining with cliffhangers in every episode after episode two. A plus for the casting choices and good acting by the majority of the cast, a plus for plot development and cliffhangers at the end of almost every episode, and a plus for an ending with emotional value that perhaps shed tears from the audience.

Final Verdict

This is definitely something worth your time and is not boring. The story picks up quickly after episode two and most of the time (except for some Jack/Niki scenes) you’ll be glued to the screen without knowing how much time has passed.